SSSS.Gridman Episode 05 Review – Provocation

What use is an anime with teenage protagonists if they don’t got to the beach, right? The “beach episode” is an episode when the main characters take a break from the typical episode format and relax. Usually, its also a reason to engage in some fan-service, as the this episode often requires characters to wear bathing suits. Sometimes then beach episode is interrupted with more relevant plot elements. Trigger goes out of the way to zoom in on Akane’s cleavage, it’s all typical for anime. 

Regardless, this episode does turn out to be more that a typical. While no new mysteries are introduced, we do get an big battle scene between Yuta, Gridman, Anti and a new Kaiju. Akane has Alexis create a massive Kaiju. Her plan is to use the Kaiju’s massive size to overwhelm Gridman. However, Junk isn’t on the field trip with them resulting Yuta and Utsumi having too run to a payphone. The Assist Weapons all pool their money to buy the “Junk.” They then brought the Junk to the station. 

Gridman can increase it’s size but not as large as the kaiju. The larger Gridman is, the more energy expended. Yuta transforms, as Borr joins him. Using Forest Extinguisher Missile, Borr puts out the fire created by the kaiju. Gridman is quickly overwhelmed, Anti soon joins the fray further adding to his difficulty. Gridman combines with Borr, to create Full Armor Combine Buster Gridman. Anti copies the missile that Borr shoots. Gridman focuses on the large kaiju, using Twin Buster Grid Beam destroying it.

Provocation for a Gridman episode it was typical, for a beach episode it wasn’t. The only significant change is that Akane now knows that Yuta is Gridman. Yuta does have a ominous dream of what looks like Gridman being impaled by what looks like a spear. Whether this is a premonition or a past memory remains to be seen. Gridman could be getting darker. 

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SSSS.Gridman Episode 3 Review: Defeat

The episode begins with Akane and a new character Anti standing in the rain. She wishes him good luck and hands him a bag of food. Rikka heads out to school, she looks up at the gray, rainy sky and ask whether she should “skip” today. Yuta, still without his memories, is asked by Sho if he thinks that the Kaiju “might actually be humans.” Yuta feels distress at the thought. It turns out that Rikka did skip school after all. 

She’s in Kamesan Park, where Anti is eating the food he was giving like a starving animal. She offers him her umbrella and her lunch. His phone quickly goes off and it’s Akane telling him to “go wild.” He transforms into a Kaiju triggering Yuta’s sensor, then Samurai Calibur bursts through the class window. He takes Sho and Yuta with him as he jump back out. They meet Rikka and head to the shop to fight. 

Yuta transforms to Gridman, but his fear of harming a person becomes paralyzing as the Kaiju begins to speak. Akane marvels at her work as she reveals that Anti can copy “all his opponents powers.” Yuta and Calibur are defeated and don’t return through the computer. Akane is thrilled. The city is then restored. Several new characters arrive to help Gridman. Akane is of course unhappy that Gridman is still alive. She sends Anti after him. 

The three new characters are Assists weapons like Calibur. Max transforms into the Battle Tracto Max, combining with Gridman. The new form is called the Heracles Combine: Max Gridman and is able to fight to a stalemate. This episode does shift away from the format of the previous two set. Akane tries to change her Kaiju abilities so they are more effective.

She is mostly successful as Anti not only defeats Gridman, but isn’t destroyed after he loses to Gridman. Regardless, Akane is unsatisfied with his effort and throws food at him. Some other changes in the format, Yuta loses, the fight happens earlier. This episode also featured a longer battle. I was wondering if Yuta was always going to have to be convinced to fight the Kaiju if he wasn’t certain that they weren’t human, but to my surprise he simply asks Anti if he was. 

This series seems to be playing with parallel events that occur in the being of the episode and the end with different results. Sho jokingly suggest that Kaiju are human, given Yuta anxiety. Yuta then asks Anti for the answer. Yuta calls Rikka at the begin to find out were she is, she doesn’t answer. When Rikka wants to find Yuta, she calls him and he does answer. Of course Akane is kind to Anti and lovingly give him food in the beginning, then she throws food at him at the end of the episode. I think it’s a smart and simple way to show what the characters have learned. Finally, the “Neon Genesis Junior High Students,” I loved the Evangelion reference. 

Images from Guardian Enzo

One Piece Manga Review Chapter 921: Shutenmaru

Kin’emon explains how he plans to recruit three samurai, Kawamatsu, Denjiro, Ashura Doji. He reveals that Kaido is considered to be the “Wisdom King.” He is considered to be the protector of country. We learn more about Kin’emon personal life, like he’s married to Tsuru. He assigns several different responsibilities to the Strawhat crew. Zoro and Usopp have been expected to “look for allies in the Flower Capital.” 

Franky is undercover as an architect in order to obtain blueprints for the residence of Kaido. Robin has become a geisha, hoping that she can meet with Orochi to spy. Brook will acquire food, Sanji will cook it, Nami will pretend to be a kunoichi (female ninja), Chopper and Carrot will go to Inuarashi. Introducing more characters in the form of 3 samurai seem unnecessary considering the large number of characters in this arc so far.  

That said I’m very interested in seeing what they look like and how they act. In this arc, the Samurai and Ninja have been the most dynamic characters both in there personalities and style. I would imagine that these three will continue that trend. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Shutenmaru, the leader of the Atamayama thieves. He and his thieves steal the food that Luffy gave to Okobore town. 

Without any samurai remaining, Shutenmaru suggests that he won’t be stopped. An elderly woman states that she believes in the prophecy that states that “nine samurai,” will arrive to carry out Oden’s wishes. Before, he kills the old woman, Jack arrives and defeats several of Shutenmaru’s men. Jack tells him that he’s “only been left alive this long because Kaido wants him as his subordinate.” Shutenmaru attacks Jack, landing a large cut across his chests. Shutenmaru is able to hold his ground against Jack, considering Jack’s power that’s impressive. 

Suddenly, large dark clouds appear. We see that’s it Kaido in his dragon form. He tells Jack to bring him Luffy. Obviously it’s surprising that Kaido has a dragon form. When Kaido was first introduced he was revealed to be quiet durable. Having been “caught and tortured 18 times, has survived 40 attempts to execute him and even jumped from 10,000 meters in the sky, crashing into the ground unharmed. I have assumed that his devil fruit ability was connected to his “invincibility.” 

Having seen Luffy “fail” to defeat Big Mom in combat, I have even less hope that he or anyone else can defeat Kaido. However, maybe the three samurai have such power that they can rival his power, but I doubt it. It seems unlikely to me that Luffy and the Strawhat’s will flee from a Yonko for a second straight arc. Of course a fight with Kaido wouldn’t necessary have to be one on one. Regardless, I’m interested in seeing who can stop him and if Luffy will match up. 

SSSS.Gridman Episode 1 & 2 Review

Rikka, Yuta and Utsumi

SSSS.Gridman is a series produced by Tsuburaya Productions and Studio Trigger. Based on the series Denkou Choujin Gridman and Denkou Choujin Gridman: boys invent great hero, although it’s not considered a reboot. Gridman focuses on Yuta Hibiki, a freshman in high school that awakens in the home of classmate Rikka Takarada’s house with amnesia. 

He quickly beings hearing Gridman calling to him from a old computer. He begins hallucinating Kaiju and apparently is the only one that can see or hear Gridman. He’s told by Gridman that he must “awaken” and complete his “mission.” He doesn’t clarify what this means. The following morning Sho Utsumi tells his friend (he doesn’t remember) about Gridman. 

The first Kaiju

After school they head to Rikka’s house. Yuta’s hallucination proves to be prophetic as a real Kaiju arrives and begins destroying the city. Yuta get’s sucked into the computer terminal and appears in the real world as Gridman. With the aid of Utsumi and Rikka he defeats the Kaiju. When they return to school the following morning, the school that was on fire the previous night is restored. 

The following episode, Restoration, explores what happen to the school after the fight. The damage that resulted from the battle was gone, with nobody having any memory of it. However, several of the students that were “killed” desks have disappeared and no one but Yuta, Utsumi and Rikka remember them. We also see that Akane is working with a computer robot like Gridman named Alexis. 

Gridman

At the shop, we are introduced to a new character named Samurai Caliber. He proceeds to optimize the computer and already knows about Gridman. After he finishes all three are able to hear Gridman and see the Kaiju. Rikka and the others go in search of the missing students. Shockingly, they learn that Sakiru Tonkawa, and the other students died in middle school years ago. Akane sends a Kaiju after her teacher for his rudeness.

Gridman and Yuta face off against it. However, he’s overpowered by the Kaiju. However, Samurai Caliber turns out to be a weapon, Gridman Caliber and together they quickly defeat it. I must say SSSS.Gridman has been a revelation. After my disappointment with Darling in the Franxx, I wasn’t expecting much from this Trigger production. Don’t get me wrong the animation is top notch and even the CGI is good. The movement of the characters are fluid, featuring the overall quality you can expect from them.

The homeroom teacher

This series is well directed. Adding layers of intrigue where I assumed none. If you ever watched any of those afternoon television series like, Power Rangers or V.R. Troopers, Gridman feels familiar. I expected there to be a monster of the week, followed by Gridman appearing, then future monsters would get stronger and Gridman would too. This formula would repeat until the end.

However, several mysteries are introduced in this series. Strangely, the battles with the Kaiju seem to take a back seat to the characters themselves. Akane is an unexpected villain, appearing innocent and adorable it turn out that she’s a sociopath. Having killed he classmates for interrupting her lunch. The little details matter in this series, as Akane paints he homeroom teacher as rude for failing to apologize when he bumped into her.

At the end of episode 2 she witness him apologizing to Yuta for the same thing. The question is why didn’t he died like Akane classmates? She did express ambivalence regarding him dying. Does her will matter? Did he apologize because she wanted him too and that’s the effect of her sending a Kaiju after him? I don’t know but that’s why I going to keep watching this series. 

Akane’s evil stare

Goblin Slayer Episode 1 Review: The Fate of Particular Adventurers

The rookies adventurers

Goblin Slayer is a 12 episode anime series based on the “a Japanese dark fantasy light novel series written by Kumo Kagyu and illustrated by Noboru Kannatuki.” It was also adapted to a manga series of the same name by Kosuke Kurose. To say this series is a “dark” fantasy is an understatement. The horrifying elements of this series (mainly the Goblin rape) but also the bloody violence can certainly be off putting. 

We are first introduced to a young priestess as she signs up for adventures. We quickly learn that there are ten ranks of adventurers, that ends with the rank of platinum. Her rank starts at porcelain and is given a tag that can double as a identity tag. She is quickly invited to join a group of rookie adventurers. The quest is to slay some goblins. Without any preparation they head off . 

nameless swordsmen

After they enter the cave their collective inexperience leads to disaster. Our priestess is practically scared of her own shadow. Making matters even worst she and the mage get separated from the rest of the group. I will  admit that I found her helplessness to be irritating. However, considering her age and life experience this reaction was the most realistic. The mage is stabbed in the stomach by a goblin as the swordsmen arrives. 

He was quickly overwhelmed and brutally stabbed to death by a horde of goblins. The monk is next, she fare far worst. She faces off against a large hobgoblin and is quickly subdued before being sexually assaulted by one of the smaller goblins. The priestess flees with the mage. They’re quickly caught by some goblins, who prepare to rape the mage. However, the iron clad “Goblin Slayer (GS)” arrives as he keeps count of his kills. 

The priestess

The goblin slayer informs the priestess that the mage was poisoned and he death is guaranteed. A dying naked mage asks to be put out of her misery, the goblin slayer obliges. The priestess and the goblin slayer team up with our priestess revealing that she can only use “holy light,” and “heal” three times. GS explains how the goblins got the drop on them. He the proceeds to systematic slaughter them including the children, killing 22 goblin in all.

This episode was a . . . well effective. This world is unforgiving. The initial presentation of the series reminded me of many RPG anime. I kept hoping that when they were killed that they simply left the game. This series is certainly difficult to watch at times, yet I find myself wanting to watch the next episode.

Rescued young woman

I was quickly reminded of Game of Thrones, mainly due to the violence, rape and dark tone. What is noticeable is that none of the characters so far have names. Is this so that we don’t become to attach, see ourselves in these characters? Maybe their names will be revealed later as we go further in the series. The animation wasn’t spectacular but I find that it was good enough. I’m into this series, hopefully every episode doesn’t involve rape. It can be too much to handle for some, but I might like it. 

The Priestess and Goblin Slayer partner again

Conception – Episode 001

Mahiru and Itsuki

Conception is an anime based off of a video game of the same name. First it’s unclear to me whether Itsuki and Mahiru are “friends,” or “cousins” as there are differences between the game and anime. Regardless, the main premise of this series is how the lives of Mahiru and Itsuki change when she reveals that “she’s pregnant.” 

Itsuki strapped to the bed

They’re instantly pulled into another world called Granvania. The quickly run into the perverted flying Raccoon Mana and court scholar Narcisstes. They are told that they have been summoned to “save the world.” How will they accomplish this? Itsuki is tasked with having sex with and impregnate the ” twelve Star Maidens (including Mahiru).”

One of the 12 star maidens

In order to save the world they must produce children to fight, as they can’t fight themselves. It’s only after this can Itsuki and Mahiru return home. It turns out that Mahiru isn’t pregnant after all and was just sick from some impurity. I’m not going to lie, the premise of Conception is ridiculous. I’m not at all interested in this series and I’m mildly put off by it.

The pervert Mana

Don’t get me wrong I’ve been watching anime since I was 5, so I’m not shocked by Conception’s concept. It is a common trope in most anime that the main characters sexual objects are young women that often look like children. It’s always creepy. Mana enhances this creepy atmosphere when at one point he “sniffs” out Mahiru virginity. After Itsuki is strapped to bed the camera zooms in on his bulge. 

Mahiru and Itsuki preparing to have sex

Also there’s the incest element between Mahiru and Itsuki, the fact that neither one of them is giving a choice to have sex as it’s clearly stated that they can’t return home until they all conceive. Conception also has poor dialogue and average animation. 

Zombie Land Saga Episode 001 Review – Good Morning

Sakura Minamoto

Sakura Minamoto is killed when she is hit by a truck. Before her death she had dreams of becoming an “idol.” She wakes up in a mansion, in the Saga prefecture. She stumbles upon zombie girls and flees in terror. She runs into a police officer that shoots her when he realizes that she’s a zombie.  

Frightened Cop that shoots Sakura in the chest

The cop is knocked out with a shovel. Still in shock Sakura is told by Kotaro Tatsumi that she has been dead for a decade and that she will work with “your team to save Saga.” Kotaro tells her that he will “make her into a idol.” Sakura asks Kotaro the following day during class “how she became a zombie” in the first place. 

Kotaro reveals the “Zombie Land Saga Project,” or just the title of the project. He keeps information close to the vest. He introduces the other band-mates, Dorami’s Legendary Biker Boss, Saki Nikaido, Legendary Showa Idol, Junko Konno, Legendary Courtesan, Yugiri, Legendary child actress prodigy Lily Hoshikawa, Legendary Tae Yamada and Legendary Heisei Idol, Ai Mizuno. 

Saki Nikaido

Sakura comically notes that Tae Yamada’s doesn’t have an elaboration like “Biker Boss,” or “Courtesan,” to go with her “Legend.” Regardless, the other zombie’s haven’t been awoken yet. They behave like traditional mindless zombie’s. Kotaro brings them to an open stage policy and puts make up on them concealing their zombie status. 

Kotaro Tatsumi

Kotaro tells Sakura that she should “trust her instincts,” while performing. The girls begin to react to the music and put on a performance that’s weird as they scream and “head-banging” to the point of breaking their necks. The performance, however, ends terribly as the girls turn on the audience. They “awaken” the following morning as Sakura yells GOOD MORNING.

Sakura “singing”

First Impressions

The musical anime genre doesn’t really interest me much. However, the general premise of the series was intriguing. The animation of MAPPA is always a draw for me and they don’t disappoint. What struck me as strange was how sad I felt that Sakura was killed. She wasn’t a familiar character at the beginning of the episode, yet her energetic, hopeful dreams to become an idol made her seem so innocent. It was a quick characterization that was very effective. 

I of course wonder if we will see her family. Fast forwarding a decade seems to be an narrative attempt to avoid focusing on the direct aftermath of Sakura’s death. However, a decade isn’t really long enough for her family to all be dead, unlike the other girls that appear to have been dead for longer. Personally, I was annoyed that Kotaro kept Sakura in the dark, regarding her zombifaction. I not sure if we will learn the truth or if they will simply move past it. That said I’m at least interested in seeing episode 2.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 9 Review: Ruler of the Walls

The massive titan of Rod Reiss continues to drag itself toward Orvud District. Erwin’s plan becomes more clear as Hange explains why it would be a bad idea to evacuate the citizens. Because Rod is an abnormal Titan he would be drawn to a larger crowd of people. If they evacuate it simply will change direction, potentially destroying the wall itself and killing more people.

Erwin acknowledges that the scouts are duty bound to protect the citizens and that even though they will use them as bait, they have developed a plan to save them if needed. The scouts will have the citizen participate in a “emergency evacuation drill.” They begin in the morning, but the citizens aren’t interested. They complain and question the authority of the scouts. Considering their attitude I can only conclude that these people haven’t been exposed to the Titans much.

Regardless, they quiet down as they notice the smoke coming from Rod’s Titan form. Cartsen orders the scouts to shoot Rod with cannon’s from a top of Wall Sina. This goes as well as I expected, which is to say not very well. Erwin has a seemingly ridiculous plan that of course is going to work. As Titan battles tend to go this one wasn’t the most action packed, but it made up for it by being the most disgusting. Rod having been crawling with half his face buried in the ground and well as his stomach, no longer has either.

His entrails fall out on top of Wall Sina. Finally, the citizens see the Titan and begin to flee. From this point the main scouts take over. After blowing up gunpowder near the Titans hands, it falls over. Eren carrying barrels of gunpowder, literally throws it into the Titans face. The heat causes them to blow up, resulting in an chain reaction that destroys the top half of Rod. Piece’s of the Titan fly off and Erwin order’s the Scout’s to cut up the chunks. The Scouts do so with Historia finally delivering the death blow to her father.

We finally see the results of what happened to Kenny and his squad. He appears to be the only survivor and is fatally wounded. Levi and another soldier find him sitting against a tree. As Levi noted his likely fate is death, Kenny shows him a syringe. There’s no way that this series will have another human made Titan so close to Rod. I think Kenny dies before he can use it or he gives it to Levi to use. The action in this episode was simple and mostly secondary. This episode was largely about the character growth of Historia and Eren.

Eren realizes that he was too arrogant. He seems to come to terms with the fact that despite his Titan abilities he’s not the “main character.” Eren of course remains very important to the series but it feels like he’s at peace with his place in the Scouts (and hopefully the series). I still think Historia’s transformation was too quick and not earned like Eren’s, but it will be good to see them accept themselves. With Historia now Queen, the scouts have a powerful ally, while killing off almost all of their non Titan enemies. A perfect time to head to the basement.

Attack on Titan Episode 8 Review: Outside the Walls of Orvud District

Rod beings transforming into a Titan that is twice the size of the Colossal Titan. While transforming Rod destroys the cavern. In order to survive they turn to Eren. As typical of him, Eren has been begging to be “eaten.” He continues to be a “crybaby,” calling himself “useless.” Eren continues to apologize, but Jean does accept it stating that “that Eren has never accomplished anything by himself.” Conny reminds him that “collectively they have been through worse.”

Finally, Eren decides to grab a bottle labeled “armor” and breaks it in his teeth. He transforms and pillars of crystal beings to reinforce the ceiling of the cavern. The squad hides underneath Eren. The Anti-Personnel Squad is harmed however. Caven and another solider are crushed by debris form the cavern ceiling. Unsurprisingly, Hange survives, as Armin and Moblit escape with her Erwin arrives with the scouts.

Meanwhile, Eren is freed from his crystallized Titan and has apparently gained the ability to “harden,” his skin. Levi points out that this is can be used to rebuild the Wall Maria. Interestingly, Rod’s Reiss Titan is strange. It’s large and seems to have a torso too long to stand, along with arms and legs too weak to lift him. Instead of walking upright it crawls and burns everything in it’s wake. According to the Scouts they believe that Rod is an Abnormal Titan.

Historia is asked by Hange if she’s okay with her father being killed. Considering the fact that a Titan of that size must be killed. If find the attachment between Historia and Rod to be weak. It’s really unconvincing to me that she would sincerely care about him. However, she accepts that her father must die.

This episode wasn’t really as entertaining or interesting as the previous ones. That’s no real issue, all episodes don’t need to be spectacular. Mostly the episode felt slow and there wasn’t anything new revealed. Regardless, I’m curious why Erwin won’t evacuate the civilians, the next episode is going to be very interesting.

Attack on Titan Episode 7 Review: Wish

Rod Reiss gives Historia hope that she can “meet” her sister. He claims that she’s not “entirely dead” he takes out a syringe that Eren quickly recognizes and begins to panic. Meanwhile, the scouts begin their assault on Chapel and the Anti-Personnel Control Squad. The doors open, then the scouts roll barrels of gunpowder down the stairs. Levi and the other enter. Sasha uses her bow and arrow skills to shoot the barrels with fire arrows.

Using signal flares, they are able to create a smokescreen. Levi quickly counts the numbers of Anti-Personnel Squad-members (35). Armin informs the others of the weakness of their Anti-Personnel ODM because it “requires that they fire in the same direction they intend to shoot their anchors, so they are unable to attack someone directly behind them.” Jean and Conny both get their first human kills, signalling a major change in the series as particularly Jean was apprehensive to do so.

Unsurprisingly, Mikasa and Levi overwhelm the Control Squad, taking out several of them each. Kenny attacks Levi, who then manages to wound Kenny in the stomach. Kenny flees. Hange approaches Caven. She manages to shoot Hange in the shoulder with her ODM gear piercing Hange’s shoulder. She then throws Hange against one of the crystal pillars. While, Attack on Titan is know for killing off main characters, I don’t think THIS is will be the moment that Hange will die. Caven takes this moment to flee with her squad.

We finally get to see what happened in the past. Basically, a titan created the cavern, the 3 walls and altered peoples minds. When Frieda was 15 she ate her uncle and inherited the Founding Titan and memories of the of the old world. This process has been repeated over and over in the Reiss Family. He claims that Grisha stole this power from Frieda and “gave” it to Eren, who lacks the Reiss blood and cannot make it work properly.

Kenny is upset once he here’s this. Disappointed that he cannot become a titan and eat Eren, he pulls his gun on Rod. Up until this point Historia was buying what Rod was telling her, but Kenny throws a wrench into it. He asks Historia “if she remembers everything Rod has done to her,” and that “the only thing Rod cares about is her blood because he does not want to become a Titan himself.”

If it’s not obvious, Rod is clearly a coward. He positions himself as some sort of steward of his families control over the titan power. Considering how quickly he goes to get his Historia after his families massacre is questionable. Regardless, Rod encourages Historia to inject the syringe and become a titan and eat Eren.

She’s hesitant and realizes that Eren hasn’t transformed yet. She asks him why and Eren begins to cry and explains that “they would not be in this position if his father had not come here five years ago.” He recalls all the “costs” that Frieda’s death resulted in. Eren has his moments in this series and sometimes if find his emotional complexity endearing. However, he can be needless self-deprecating and it can become annoying.

Historia changes her mind as she remembers Ymir. She throws the syringe to the ground and begins to free Eren as he begs her to eat him to stop everyone’s suffering. She pulls out the first set of chains as she tells him that “that she wants nothing to do with exterminating the Titans. Let humanity get wiped out.” Rod begins to crawl his way toward the puddle and licks it, turning himself into a Titan.

I’m glad to see Historia come to he senses. I predict that Eren should transform to save himself from Rod, but in the state that he’s in maybe not. I’m assume of course that Rod would be a mindless Titan, which could mean that he attacks Kenny and the control squad as well. Being an “ordinary” titan should make him easy to kill anyway.